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Southbank Medical Centre

Cold & Flu -Symptoms & Treatment

cold & flu

Winter is fast approaching and with this cold season also comes the season for colds and flus. Many people confuse the two terms as being the same but catching the flu is much more severe than the cold.

cold & flu

Cold and flu are both viral respiratory illnesses. The common cold can be caused by any one of the 200 different viruses whereas the flu is caused by one of the 3 different influenza viruses – A, B or C. The flu, otherwise known as influenza, is often confused with the common cold because they share similar symptoms such as a sore throat, runny nose and cough. However flu symptoms also include fever, headaches, severe muscle aches, cold sweats and even nausea and vomiting (read more: WedMD).


Cold symptoms usually last for a few days to a week. It is a virus infection so your body’s immune system can fight off the virus. However if it persists for more than a week you may have a bacterial infection, which means you need to take antibiotics. It is considered a mild illness so you are able to keep going with your daily routine. Flu symptoms typically last for a week but can make you feel run-down for up to two or three weeks.


Recovery Care

Colds and flus are highly infectious diseases which can spread easily from person to person. Once infected, you yourself become contagious and can spread the viruses. Both cold and flu spreads through sneezes or coughs that sends droplets containing the viruses flying through the air. Or these droplets can land on a surface such as a doorknob or countertop and contaminate it.


According to Healthline, the best remedy for both colds and flus are to drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of rest. It is advised to stay at home to avoid passing on your infection. As colds and flus are more prevalent during the colder seasons, more precaution must be taken in order to prevent spreading the dreadful disease. Staying home and resting also better allows your body to fight the infection and recover.


For more information and how to prevent this disease: See your GP, or book an appointment with one of our doctors at Southgate Medical Centre.

Six Steps to Reduce your Cancer Risk


In 2016 it was estimated that more than 130,000 Australians were diagnosed with cancer. It’s the leading cause of death, accounting for around 3 in 10 deaths in Australia.

The good news is that at least one in three cases of cancer are preventable and many cancer deaths could be prevented with the right lifestyle habits and regular screening.

According to Cancer Council Australia more than 13000 cancer deaths each year are due to smoking, sun exposure, poor diet, alcohol, physical inactivity or being overweight.


1. Quit Smoking.

Tobacco smoke contains more than 70 cancer-causing chemicals. Quitting is one of the most important things you can do to reduce your cancer risk. If you need help, talk to your doctor, call the Quitline on 13 788 48 (13 QUIT) or visit

2. Eat a healthy diet.

According to the World Cancer Research Fund, this means eating more plant foods (a variety of different coloured vegetables and fruit, wholegrains and legumes) limiting red meat and avoiding processed meats. Limiting salt, salty processed foods, sugary drinks, fast foods and energy dense foods (those that provide a lot of calories but little nutrition) is also important.

3. Move more.

Be physically active (for example brisk walking) for at least 30 minutes each day and reduce sedentary time, such as television watching.

4. Maintain a healthy weight.

Carrying extra weight, particularly around the middle, increases the risks of many types of cancer. This means that preventing weight gain and losing weight, if you are overweight, is an important step in reducing your cancer risk. You can do this through moving more and eating right.

5. Be Sun Smart.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Australia and we have the highest rates of skin cancer in the world. But it’s largely preventable. When the UV level is 3 or above (you can find out at the Cancer Council Australia recommends being Sun Smart – slip on sun protective clothing, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat, seek shade and slide on some sunnies.

6. Avoid or limit alcohol.

There’s strong evidence that alcohol increases the risk of six types of cancer- breast, bowel, liver, mouth/throat, oesophageal and stomach. For this reason it’s best not to drink to avoid cancer, but if you do, limit alcoholic drinks to no more than 2 standard drinks per day and try one or two alcohol-free days each week.

If you require more information, please discuss with our doctors at Southgate Medical Centre.


You can also contact the Cancer Council on 13 11 20 or visit

Taking Medications Correctly


Around 50% of people, on average, don’t take their medications correctly. This can increase the risk of illness or harm to your health. Fortunately there are ways that may help you stay on track.


Medication non-adherence
Occasionally missing a pill won’t cause harm for the vast majority of people if you follow the instructions in the ‘If you forget to take a dose’ section of the Consumer Medicine Information (CMI) leaflet that accompanies your medication.

But it’s a problem when you consistently miss taking pills or take the wrong dosage too often. This is called medication non-adherence and is defined as taking <80% of your prescribed dosage.


The longer you need to take a medication, the less likely you’ll continue taking it. For heart and blood vessel (cardiovascular) medication, research shows there can be 25% non-adherence after 6 months and 47% after two years. Some medications may be worse than others- foe example, some studies have that found statins (blood cholesterol lowering drugs) have 75% non-adherence rates after two years.

People gave various reasons for not taking medications correctly in a recent Australian survey. Some simply didn’t have their medications when they needed to take them or were often in a hurry and forgot.

Other causes may include: poor understanding of the purpose of the medication, medication side effects, mental health problems and physical causes such as swallowing difficulties, difficulty opening containers in patients with arthritis or poor eyesight. Doctors may also contribute to medication non-adherence if they prescribe too many pills or don’t communicate the correct information about a medication.


What to do
The following measures may help improve your medication adherence:
• Ask your doctor or pharmacist about your medications if you don’t understand something
• Your doctor may simplify your medications by reducing the number you take or how often you take them; for example, swap from a short-acting to a long acting medication
• Use a pill box with features such as the week divided into the days and each day into the time of day (morning, noon, evening, bedtime)
• Use a smart phone app or text messaging reminder system
• Get all your medications from the same pharmacy, so they can help you keep track of what you’re taking.


More information, please discuss with any of our doctors at Southgate Medical Centre or visit

Mythbusting: Dairy Foods & Calcium

Myth:  Dairy foods are the only way to get calcium in my diet:

What the research says:  While dairy products are a good source of calcium, they are not the only ones. Calcium is also found in canned fish with bones (such as salmon and sardines), hard tofu, almonds, dried figs, unhulled tahini (sesame seed paste) and some leafy green vegetables, particularly kale, collard greens and Asian leafy greens such as Chinese broccoli (Gai Lan) and bok choy. There are also a number of non-dairy milks fortified with calcium.


Myth:   If I don’t eat dairy foods I need to take a calcium supplement:

What the research says:  If you don’t eat dairy products, a calcium supplement may not be the only way to keep your bones strong. As discussed above, there are a range of other calcium-containing foods and as long as you eat enough of these you don’t need to rely on a supplement.


Myth: Any non-dairy milks are a good way to get calcium if I don’t drink milk

What the research says:There are now a range of non-dairy milks available, including soy, almond, oat, rice and coconut milk. These don’t naturally contain much calcium but many have added calcium so check the labels and choose one with at least 120mg/100ml.

Myth:   While other foods contain calcium it’s not possible to eat enough of these to meet my calcium needs

What the research says: The recommended daily intake for calcium is 1000mg for men and women aged 19-50 years but increases as we age. You could achieve this by having a small can of salmon on your sandwich (~250mg), a snack of 5 dried figs (~150mg) and 40g almonds (~100mg), a stir-fry including 150g hard tofu (~115-250mg) and 1 cup of Bok choy (~130mg) and a cup of calcium-fortified soy milk (~300mg).



For more advice about healthy eating please consult one of our doctors at Southgate Medical Centre

Good Sleep


While it’s easy to skimp on sleep when there are other competing priorities, getting enough sleep is more important than you might think.


It’s now recognized that good sleep is a significant contributor to our health and wellbeing. Poor sleep not only impacts on our mood, concentration and energy levels, but can increase the risk of health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.


So along with other lifestyle habits, such as eating well and staying active, getting enough sleep should be considered an essential part of optimizing your health


Try these tips to help improve your sleep habits:
• Have a regular sleep pattern. This means going to bed and getting up at around the same times each day, including weekends.

• Get enough sleep. While our sleep needs vary, and some people may need more or less, most adults need between 7-9 hours sleep per night, while children need more.

• Go screen free. The light from your television, computer, tablet or mobile phone screen can affect the production of melatonin, a hormone which plays an important role in sleep, so turn off all screens for at least an hour before bed.

• Stop work. Avoid working right up until bedtime and finish your work day by writing down a list of things you need to do tomorrow so your brain can switch off.

• Relax before bed. Listening to relaxing music, meditating, reading or having a warm bath or shower can all help so find out what works best for you.

• Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark and a comfortable temperature before you go to bed – noise, light and being too hot or cold will all make it harder to get a good night’s sleep.

• Exercise regularly but avoid strenuous exercise close to bed time. Exercising earlier in the day can help to improve sleep quality.

• Avoid alcohol, caffeine and smoking. Caffeine and nicotine are both stimulants that can keep you awake and while alcohol might help you get off to sleep, it can disrupt your sleep during the night.


For more information about sleep visit or speak with one of our doctors at Southgate Medical Centre.

Mythbusting: Nuts, Weight & Health


Let’s see what the research says regarding some common myths about nuts….


Myth: Eating nuts will increase my cholesterol levels.

What the research says: Nuts are high in fat, but they are cholesterol-free (as cholesterol is only found in animal products) and contain mostly ‘healthy’ unsaturated fats, which can actually help cholesterol levels.

Myth: Nuts are high in fat so I should avoid them

What the research says:Yes nuts are high in fat but not all fats are to be avoided- we need some fat in our diet to provide essential fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins. Nuts consist mostly of ‘healthy’ polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. They also contain plant protein, dietary fiber and important vitamins and minerals so are one of the best sources of healthy fats in your diet.



Myth: I shouldn’t want nuts if I have heart disease.

What the research says: Eating a handful of nuts five or more times per week can halve your risk of developing heart disease. And each weekly serving (around 30g) of nuts can reduce your risk of dying of coronary heart disease by 8%.

Myth: Nuts are high in kilojoules and will make me gain weight

What the research says: Regular nut eaters are less likely to be overweight than those who don’t eat nuts. Nuts are satisfying so eating them may lead to eating less of other foods. It also seems that we don’t absorb all the fat from nuts- studies have found that around 5-15% of the energy in nuts is excreted rather than absorbed.

Myth: Nuts are off the menu if I have diabetes

What the research says: Eating nuts can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and including nuts with a meal can reduce the rise in blood glucose levels after a meal in those who already have it.



For further nutrition information, please contact our nurse, Libby Costa, or if you wish you may make an appointment with one of our doctors at Southgate Medical Centre.


Could too much time in the chair send you to an early grave? According to an increasing body of research, the answer is unfortunately yes.

On average, adults sit for about 9 hours each day, and much of this time is continuous sitting. This lack of movement can lead to unhealthy levels of blood glucose, insulin and blood fats and can increase the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. In children, too much sitting is strongly linked with obesity.

Unfortunately, research also shows that doing regular exercise may not fully protect against the health risks of long periods of continuous sitting. Even if you go to the gym for an hour or two each day, if you spend the rest of the day sitting you are still at risk.
So what can you do, particularly if your job or study means you need to spend most of your day in the chair? The good news is that just breaking up this sitting time and avoiding prolonged periods of sitting can go a long way towards reducing the risk.

Here are a few tips to get you moving more and sitting less:
• Take regular movement breaks – ideally 2-5 minute activity break every 30-60 minutes. This could be getting a glass of water, going to the bathroom, walking to talk to a colleague rather than emailing, standing while you are talking on the phone, doing some household chores or even just doing a few stretches at your desk.
• Minimize screen time outside of work, whether it’s television, computer games or checking social media on your phone
• Look for opportunities to move more during your day – taking the stairs, parking a bit further from the shops, walking to a further bus stop, or standing rather than sitting on public transport – every little bit counts.

Need to help to take charge over your chair? The Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute have developed a free Rise and Recharge app to help you to sit less and move more. Visit to find out more.

You may also wish to have a further discussion about your health with one of our doctors at Southgate Medical Centre.


Pump down the Pressure


Each time your heart pumps out blood, it creates a force that pushes against the walls of your arteries (blood vessels). Like your hand pushing down on your thigh, this force is called pressure.

When blood pressure is high, it increases the risk of damage to your arteries, in particular, thickening or weakening the artery walls. The danger of a thickened artery wall, for example, is reduced blood flow, which can lead to heart disease and stroke (brain damage).

How much is ‘high’?
More than 1 in 3 Australian adults has high blood pressure (hypertension). However, many don’t realise it, because it often doesn’t cause symptoms.

High blood pressure may be first discovered when measured by your doctor using a device called a sphygmomanometer. It involves an inflated cuff wrapped around your arm, which measures the pressure in millimeters of mercury (mmHg).

The sphygmomanometer records two numbers – the highest is for your heart pumping blood (systolic pressure) and lowest is when your heart relaxes after a pump (diastolic pressure).

The following are the main blood pressure categories. Keep in mind that your ideal blood pressure may vary based on your circumstances such as your age, medical history and medications.

Normal <120/80 mmHg
Normal to High 120/80 – 140/90 mmHg
High 140/90 – 180/110 mmHg
Very High >180/110 mmHg

In addition to your genetics, a number of lifestyle factors are commonly associated with high blood pressure including: smoking, high blood cholesterol, overweight, physical inactivity, high salt intake, diabetes and excessive alcohol.

Reducing high blood pressure involves managing the above factors. The doctors at Southgate Medical Centre can provide advice and treatments for each one that affects you. Blood pressure lowering medications may also be recommended after assessing your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.

More information, visit the Heart Foundation online
Southgate Medical Centre
3 Southgate Ave
VIC 3006

Christmas Cheer – Don’t Overindulge!


The end of the year is a time when many people overindulge when it comes to alcohol. While a glass or two is fine for most people, having a few too many isn’t good for our health or waistlines.

In the short term, excess alcohol can cause headaches, nausea and dehydration and can increase the risk of accidents or injury. If you regularly drink too much, it can increase your risk of liver damage and many types of cancer. Drinking alcohol can also increase your appetite and make you less likely to make healthy food choices. The combination of alcohol and fatty foods can be a major contributor to festive weight gain. Finally, alcohol can affect the action of some prescription medications, so if you take these, speak to your doctor about drinking safely.

So what can you do to still enjoy yourself without the negative effects of too much celebratory cheer?
• Set yourself a limit and stick to it.
• Make sure you head out well hydrated – alternate alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Plain mineral or soda water with a squeeze of lemon or lime are good alternatives.
• Drink slowly and have one drink at a time. If your glass is constantly being topped up it’s hard to keep track of exactly how much you’ve had.
• Eat before or while you’re drinking as alcohol is absorbed more slowly with food in your stomach. But avoid too many salty snacks which can leave you thirsty and wanting to drink more.
• Avoid ‘shouts’ which can encourage you to drink more than if you were going at your own pace. If you can’t avoid this, buy yourself a non-alcoholic drink when it’s your turn.
• Remember parties don’t have to be all about eating and drinking. Strike up a conversation with someone new, get up on the dance floor or offer to help the host – if you’re busy and enjoying yourself in other ways, you’ll be less likely to overindulge!
• If you have lots of social events over the holiday period, keep your days at home in between alcohol-free.

For more information speak with your GP or consult the Australian Alcohol Guidelines on the following websites (includes information on reducing your health risks when drinking and a guide to standard drink sizes):

Southgate Medical Centre
3 Southgate Ave
Southbank VIC 3006

Erectile Dysfunction Explained

If you suffer from erectile dysfunction, or impotence, you’re not alone. In Australia, about 1 in 5 men over the age of 40 report that they are unable to get or keep an erection that is sufficient for sexual intercourse. And the chance of having problems with erections increases with age.

Erectile dysfunction is not a disease in itself, but a symptom of other problems, which may be physical or psychological, or a combination of both

.Physical problems can include other health conditions that affect blood flow (such as narrowing of the arteries), blood vessel function (such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity) or nerve function (such as multiple sclerosis, diabetic nerve damage and spinal cord trauma). Excess alcohol, drug use, certain prescription medications and smoking can also be causes.

Psychological factors causing erectile dysfunction include performance anxiety, relationship problems, sexual attitudes and upbringing, stress and depression.

There are many treatment options for erectile dysfunction, depending on the cause. These include medications, self injection therapy, surgery, devices such as vacuum pumps, hormone therapy and counselling. While medications are now commonly available, they don’t work for all men and may be unsafe if you have other health problems or are taking certain medications so it’s important to get advice from your doctor before taking these.

If you suffer from erectile dysfunction make an appointment to see your GP. While it can be difficult to talk about, there’s no need to be embarrassed. Erectile dysfunction is a medical condition and may be a sign of an underlying health problem. Your doctor can help determine the cause and discuss the best treatment option for you.

For more information: Speak to your GP or visit